U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a move that puts the Obama administration at odds with the powerful American gun lobby, will sign the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty regulating the $70 billion international conventional arms business, diplomats said on Tuesday.
A senior State Department official said President Barack Obama’s administration would notify the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and Kerry would sign the treaty on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Obama gave a speech to the assembly on Tuesday that focused on Syria, Iran and other Middle East hot spots.
The arms treaty, which requires ratification by the Senate and has been attacked by America’s pro-gun National Rifle Association, would help Western countries press to curtail “alleged” Russian arms sales to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad‘s government has been accused of widespread abuses in more than two years of civil war.
What about all those U.S., Saudi Arabia and, yep, you guessed it, Israel’s, armed trades, chemicals weapons, etc………?
The United States and 86 other signatory nations “must implement the treaty and bring to an end the supply of weapons to countries where they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations,” Shetty said in a statement.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, whose country has been repeatedly attacked by a cross-border Islamic jihadist militant group called Boko Haram, told the United Nations such rebellions are “sustained by unfettered access by non-state actors to illicit smart arms and light weapons.”
“For us in Africa these are the weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
The U.N. General Assembly adopted the treaty on April 2 by a vote of 154 for, including the United States, three against, and 23 abstentions. The no votes were cast by Iran, North Korea and Syria, U.N. records showed.
WAY TO PRESSURE RUSSIA ON SYRIA
The NRA, which has opposed the treaty from the start, called the April vote a sad day for the United States, the world’s No. 1 arms exporter.
Among the NRA’s arguments against the treaty are that it undermines American sovereignty and disregards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.
The National Rifle Association has said the treaty will be used to regulate civilian weapons and to create an “unacceptable” registry of civilian firearms purchasers.
The administration disagrees. The main purpose of the treaty is to “stem the international, illegal and illicit trade in conventional weapons that benefits terrorists (CIA) and rogue (Government) agents,” said the official, who was authorized to announce the planned signing on the condition of anonymity.
“The treaty recognizes and protects the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes,” the official said. The United States already has strict export controls, “which haven’t diminished one iota the ability of Americans to enjoy their rights under our Constitution.”
Amnesty International, which has been a leading sponsor of a two-decade international campaign to stem the international arms trade to human rights abusers, said “all Americans should celebrate” the administration decision to sign the accord.
The treaty will go into effect once it is signed and ratified by at least 50 U.N. member states. The United States will be the 89th country to sign the treaty, which was adopted in a 153 to 3 vote, with 20 abstentions, in April.
Only four countries have ratified the treaty — Iceland, Nigeria, Guyana and the Caribbean island state of Antigua and Barbuda. U.S. ratification requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, where many Republicans and some Democrats are strongly opposed, and the administration is unlikely to submit it in the near future.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, warned Obama not to “take any executive action to implement this treaty, provisionally or otherwise, unless and until” the Senate has consented to it. The Senate, Corker said in a letter to Obama, “may not provide such consent.”
Weapons covered in the treaty include but are not limited to battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.
“This will increase the pressure on Russia to sign. It will increase the pressure on China as well.”
Ahhh ha!!! The underlining “digs” to Russia for helping broker a deal for Syria, and then there’s that other little pesky problem, Edward Snowden.